There is no better way to introduce a touch of luxury into your home than by investing in a chandelier, the queen of the lighting family. No longer just for nobility and the upper classes, modern chandeliers are designed and crafted in such a wide, vibrant range of styles and materials that there is one for every household.
Let me take you through a simple guide to buying your perfect lighting feature that will enhance your home, bringing history, decadence and pleasure for many years to come.
Shedding light on the chandelier
The history of the chandelier is a long one, to say the least, and probably didn’t start as you would expect. Coming from humble beginnings, ‘chandelier’ literally means ‘candleholder’ which is exactly what they were. With references dating back 5,000 years (picture Egyptian Pharaohs, pyramids and tombs) the chandelier was the most practical way of lighting any space as it could hold multiple candles, either wall mounted or handheld, and wasn’t made for decorative purposes.
Fast forward a few thousand years, chandeliers have become a symbol of wealth and power, adorning royal palaces, religious buildings and country piles the world over. But of course, they weren’t for the common man back then; Candles were incredibly expensive, seen as a luxury and most often reserved for special occasions or emergencies, making the multi-candle-holding chandelier somewhat out of reach.
It wasn’t until the mid-19th century that candle making came into mass production and suddenly multi-candle holders were in demand for smaller households, even as decorative features. However, the practicalities of the modern lightbulb as we know it now were quickly realised as a much more effective way of lighting a room, once again making electric chandeliers a creation for the royal, rich and famous.
This grandiose status has followed the chandelier throughout the most recent centuries and they are still associated with class, elegance and wealth, but I’m here to show you that there really is a chandelier for every home, every taste, everyone.
Your guide to buying a chandelier
There are three things to consider when choosing your chandelier:
Chandeliers themselves come in a vast range of shapes and you must decide whether you want that shape to mirror or contradict the footprint of your room; A square room does not need to have a square chandelier, but a rectangular chandelier can look fabulous set over a dining table or kitchen island of the same shape. There may also be existing dominant shapes in your room that you would like to reflect such as windows, wall art or other light fixings.
Does your room have soft edged features that would suit a pendant bowl or is the interior visage more angular to be better complimented by a birdcage or candelabra?
There are no right or wrong moves here, you just have to be aware of the shapes created in your room, even unintentional ones, in order for you to choose a chandelier shape that best suits your interior space.
This one seems a bit more obvious – if you love it, you love it! I can’t stress enough that there is a chandelier style for everyone, from the ultra-classic crystal candelabras to the nuevo modern caged or linear fittings. Your new chandelier will look right in your home if you take the time to find the one that complements your current décor.
That being said, I wouldn’t necessarily suggest getting a beaded chandelier for your country kitchen but it would look magnificent in a bedroom when paired with beaded curtain tiebacks or cushion covers.
In the same vein, I wouldn’t necessarily put an industrial metalwork piece in my living room above my soft blue sofa, but a sleek cream pendant number could look outrageously good.
The key to getting your chandelier style right is to really look at your current interior design, find features in your space that it can complement and go with your gut – you’ve got it right so far!
Size will always ultimately dictate where you can place a chandelier but the rules here aren’t quite as black and white as you may think.
In most cases I would say the smaller the space the smaller the chandelier, however this isn’t always the be all and end all of sizing rules.
A low or narrow hallway or landing would look overwhelmed with a monstrously sized chandelier, however in a slightly smaller drawing room or bedroom you might want the light fitting to be the focal point, the main feature of the space, and therefore more prominent.
Think back to shape and style and, so long as your chosen chandelier is suitable for your current interior with those factors in mind, then you can usually get away with a little over-sizing.
Under-sizing, however, for me is a big no-no. The larger the proportions of your room the more important it is to match a chandelier to that sizing. In a vast room with high ceilings and large windows a small chandelier will get lost, wasting the opportunity for the ‘wow-factor’ that chandeliers bring in spades.
Placement and hanging
So, here’s where the real chandelier rules come into play.
- If hanging over a dining table, the chandelier must be central to that table, even if that is not central to the room
- If there is no dining table in the room then the chandelier must be hung centrally on the ceiling. The exceptions here are if you have a long room and choose to place one light fitting at either end
- The bottom of your chandelier shouldn’t hang lower than your doorframe. This would generally be 6’9’’ off the floor for a standard ceiling height
- If hung over a dining table it should be 30" - 34" from the table top for a standard 8ft ceiling. For each 1ft higher, add an additional 3" to the chandelier height
- Consider where the windows are in your home and whether you want your chandelier to be seen from outside. It’s popular for chandeliers in hallways and foyers to be hung at window height to be seen by guests before they enter your home
- Ideally you want a minimum of three inches of chain from the ceiling rose to the chandelier itself
A final note from me
Life is all about balance and interior design follows suit. Light fixings are usually the last thing we add into a room but have you thought about perhaps designing your next interior around the chandelier you’ve fallen in love with?
Your home is your home and you have to love every nook, cranny and corner. Know why you chose the pieces you did to make a coherent interior story, and own those choices. So long as you love your new chandelier and show it off with joy and pride then all your family and friends will too.